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July 17, 2020

King Urges USDA to Support Lobster Industry, Follow Through on Presidential Memorandum

Last month, President Trump signed a memorandum directing aid for the lobster industry; however, some industry leaders have not yet received updates or the opportunity to provide input

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Office of U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) released a letter that Senator King sent to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue urging him to take steps to maximize aid for the lobster industry in the wake of President Trump’s June 24th presidential memorandum. Specifically, the letter emphasizes the need for the Administration to expand its efforts to seek input from industry leaders, and presses the Administration to offer equal aid that was provided to farmers impacted by retaliatory tariffs in 2018 and 2019. Today’s letter follows up on Senator King’s commitment to monitor the implementation of last month’s Presidential memorandum to ensure it addresses the needs of the lobster industry.

“As you know, the United States lobster industry continues to be hammered by China’s retaliatory tariffs,” said Senator King. “Like farmers, who have endured similar effects from trade policy, these hard working Americans need help from the federal government to overcome this unforeseen hit to their bottom lines…

“To date, the USDA has provided relief to American farmers and ranchers that have been affected by China’s retaliatory tariffs, but have not provided such relief to the lobster industry, which is an integral part of my state’s economy. Maine lobstermen are small business owners who support both our treasured working waterfronts and the livelihoods of 10,000 additional Mainers. China's retaliatory tariffs, coupled with the ongoing impact of the global pandemic, have left the lobster industry in an extremely fragile economic state. They deserve the same level of support USDA offered to farmers impacted by retaliatory tariffs in 2018 and 2019…

“…As the USDA moves forward, and in recognition of the agency’s historically light interaction with lobster producers, I urge a robust effort to connect with representatives of all segments of the lobster industry in Maine, as well as state and regional regulators. Only in that way, can we be sure the best possible data and perspectives are guiding this long awaited help from the federal government.

Senator King, along with the full Maine Congressional Delegation, has consistently stood with the lobster industry, which faces a number of serious threats including the ongoing trade war with China and potential federal regulations associated with the ongoing right whale issue. In November 2019, Collins, King, and Pingree urged the USTR to pursue a trade deal with the European Union that would prioritize lobster; in a February 2019 letter, the Delegation asked the USTR to prioritize lobster in negotiations, noting that live lobster exports to China dropped by 64% in the first month after the retaliatory tariffs were imposed. The Maine Delegation has also pressed for the Administration to offer funding to help the lobster industry access new markets.

The full letter can be read HERE.

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